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It will be difficult – but not impossible – to detect the chemical breakdown products of any nerve agents that may have been used in the Damascus attack, but access to the victims could be critical in proving the illicit use of chemical weapons.

...and how a cuppa can put the lid on cancer

Drinking Chinese tea isn't just trendy - it might stop you getting cancer. But the good news does not extend to the traditional British cuppa, because its brewing process destroys the chemical that makes green tea so beneficial, writes Charles Arthur.

Vitamin study shows millions need daily help

Unrecognised vitamin deficiency may be affecting millions of people because their genetic make-up affects their capacity to absorb nutrients from food, scientists say.

Letter: Why the dinosaurs were prone to gout

Sir: There is an excellent reason why Tyrannosaurus rex, and other reptiles and birds, might show signs of gout (report, 22 May).

... and other natural remedies

Plants and herbs being examined for their anti-cancer properties.

Obituary: Norman Pirie

Norman Pirie was a biochemist distinguished for his pioneering work on plant viruses, a crusading advocate for the dietary use of leaf protein and, more broadly, a man of science who wrote with force and lucidity on many scientific questions of his time.

Appliance to science, but women still miss out on first degree

While Oxford asks why female graduates get fewer top marks, a trio of a cademics say it is to do with the way men show off

Blood service chiefs could face charges

Irish blood transfusion authorities could face criminal charges following the report of a tribunal of inquiry which found that they continued providing blood plasma to patients long after they were told it was contaminated with the hepatitis C virus.

Letter: In the mind

In reply to Robin Blake's review of The Sickening Mind by Paul Martin (Review, 23 February), all medical students are taught the clinical features of idiopathic and psychosomatic illnesses and the importance of the doctor/patient relationship. There is a vast (clinical) literature from "the paper rose" as a trigger of an asthma attack to case studies where a cancer followed soon after the psychological shock of life crisis, (such as bereavement). Doctors do not "forget" after drawing "a few vague maps" and not "face" the possibilities.

Nature: Heartache proves a gerbil is for life

Lovelorn gerbils separated from their mates display the same symptoms as depressed divorcees, scientists have found. Researchers at Leeds University believe the rodents could provide useful models for studying the biochemistry of depression in humans.

Grow your own health tonic - can wheatgrass work wonders?

In search of the trendiest organic fix? Look no further than Planet Organic, a West London natural food supermarket, now supplying the latest US wonder tonic - wheatgrass juice.

Nothing to fear from techno-corn

Genetic engineers have encountered apathy and uninformed hostility from the public

Letter: Farm antibiotics the real danger

Sir: In your leading article on food scares (4 December), you say that genetic engineering of food "should be no more controversial than any other form of scientific research".

POP : Ezio Borderline, London

Sometimes, in a back-handed sort of way, you think there really may be hope for Britain. For example, wandering down Charing Cross Road last Friday, you might have wondered who could possibly be playing the Borderline. One of London's least appetising venues, this hell-hole had a queue stretching practically to Waterloo. To see? Ezio. C'mon - obscure twosome from Cambridge; play songs of lamentation, dreams and desire on a couple of acoustics; debut LP Black Boots on Latin Feet out a year ago, good reviews, sank without trace, though it probably gets played to death at dinner parties around Islington's Canonbury Square. Further clue for stragglers: Sue Lawley.

i see a tall, dark accounts executive with nice fingernails

So they didn't employ you . Was it your experience that was wrong, your appearance - or maybe your star sign? Bill Saunders on personnel hocus pocus

Competition: Literary quiz

This gastro-literary quiz is divided into three courses, each with an element of self-service. We give you all the ingredients - both the questions and the answers - all you have to do is mix them together to taste. The prizes for the winner are all the food and drink books in the Dillons Christmas catalogue. There are also three runners-up prizes of pounds 100 of Dillons Gift Vouchers and an additional 10 runners-up prizes of pounds 50 Dillons gift vouchers.
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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam